Monday, November 15, 2010

Ciao, Bella! Cupcakes

By: Yumi Castrillo

Ciao, Bella! Cupcakes
Here’s the cupcake version of strawberry cheesecake—moist, creamy vanilla cupcake lined with a graham crust, topped with lemon cream cheese buttercream and strawberry pie filling. These cupcakes are best enjoyed the day after baking, when the frosting has set in.

Makes 30 cupcakes  Prep Time 55 minutes  Bake Time 25 minutes

For the crust
1 cup crushed graham crackers
1 tablespoon melted butter

For the cupcake
3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 bar cream cheese, softened
2 cups white sugar
1 cup oil
1/2 cup strawberry yogurt
3/4 cup buttermilk
5 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
zest of 1 lemon

For the lemon cream cheese frosting
1/2 bar cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup butter, chilled and cut into chunks
juice of half a lemon

For the topping
1 can strawberry pie filling
1/2 cup crushed graham crackers

1  Line two 3-ounce cupcake pans with cupcake liners.

2  Make the crust: In a bowl, mix butter and grahams. Place a spoonful of the mixture in each liner; press down with fingers. Place in the freezer until firm, about 30 minutes.

Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 300˚F. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

4  Beat the cream cheese at medium speed. Add the sugar. Beat at high speed for 10 minutes or until smooth.

Lower the speed and blend in the oil, yogurt, buttermilk, egg yolks, and vanilla. Increase speed for about 5 minutes to get a smooth mixture.

6  Lower the speed and gradually mix in the flour mixture. Do not overbeat.

7  In another bowl, beat egg whites to stiff peaks. Gently fold it into the cake batter.

Take out cupcake pans from the freezer and fill with batter, about three-fourths full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a wire rack.

9  Make the frosting: In a mixing bowl, beat powdered sugar and cream cheese on low speed. Increase the speed and add the butter and lemon juice. Beat until smooth. If the consistency is too soft for spreading, chill for at least 30 minutes.

10  Using a flat metal spatula, smear frosting on each cupcake. With a handful of crushed grahams in your hand, gently roll the sides of the frosted top against your palm. Top with strawberry pie filling.

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